NEO Philanthropy is committed to uplifting the voices of marginalized communities who are our grantees and partners and working to make the world a more equitable place. In honor of Pride Month, we will profile a few of the many organizations, leaders and NEO partners who are making wave across the LGBTQ and broader social justice space.
This post features Dani Marrero Hi, Director and Founder of Neta. Neta is a grantee of NEO’s Four Freedoms Fund.
In its first six months of existence, the bilingual multimedia platform Neta reached more than seven million people across the U.S. through social media. If you ask Neta’s director Dani Marrero Hi how this rapid growth was possible, she’ll tell you it’s because the need for this resource was long overdue. “Neta is indicative that foundations need to move beyond the typical metropolitan areas and move into areas that are underrepresented.”
Neta is giving the residents in the Rio Grande Valley a place to tell their own story. They create culturally relevant content – videos, podcasts and articles – that amplifies the voices of border residents that directly challenge mainstream narratives.
As a Rio Grande Valley native, Dani knew the area needed a platform like Neta because she lived it. When she watched the news, she constantly heard issues that affected her and the people around her – immigrant rights, LGBTQ rights, health care and reproductive justice to name a few. Instead of hearing stories and experiences from those around her, she heard talking heads trying to paint the picture of a place they’d likely never been. She didn’t see or hear her big, vibrant community with many complex issues, concerns or even successes reflected, so she created a space where she did.
As a member of the LGBTQ community, Dani understands the importance of seeing yourself and your community in the media. “It’s great to turn on the television and see discussions about marriage equality, for example. But there are a lot of people who still feel like they can’t be themselves in public and who’s lives are at risk, so we need to have a space to talk about this reality of our region in a way that is culturally relevant and moving people to embrace the LGBTQ community.”
Neta has big plans to empower their ever-growing community. They are in the process of creating documentaries highlighting the LGBTQ community in the Valley and a report showing how LGBTQ students navigate and exist in the public school system. In giving a voice and a space to the progressive Rio Grande Valley community, Neta hopes to inspire young people to act on the social and cultural issues that affect them and to challenge the national narrative of the border region. They want to create a space where the content tells the reader, “You don’t have to leave your culture to embrace who you are.”
Neta may have accomplished a lot in their young history, but they are just getting started.
For more information about Neta, visit https://netargv.com/.